How to Choose a Reasonable Health Care Plan on a Budget

by Patricia Walling

Every year there are millions of Americans who struggle to afford health care. This can be due to insurance companies raising premiums, but there can be other reasons too. For example, many people who are either unemployed or self-employed (such as per diem nurses or those in other health care professions like medical coding) are unable to get the discounts that many companies offer to their employees. Many employers who have simply stopped offering health care as a benefit. As a result, many people struggle to find a reasonable health care plan that fits within their budget.

Luckily, there are options available that can help provide yourself with reasonably priced health coverage. And though it may cost a little more than you’d like,  paying for health insurance before you get sick or injured is usually a much better alternative than paying medical bills out of pocket. Here are a few basic tips to consider when you’re looking to choose a reasonable health care plan on a budget.

Stick to the Basics

Basic coverage policies differ a little bit depending on the insurance provider. Of course, these are no-frills policies that generally cover doctor visits and reduce the amount the policy holder has to pay for prescription medication. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth it; when you are sick, one trip to the emergency room or a walk-in clinic can cost more than six months of coverage.

Consider an HMO Plan

If you visit the doctor often, an HMO may be the most cost-effective way to manage your health care as preventive services like physicals are often provided at no extra cost. An HMO is where you use in-network doctors. Thus it is important to remember that even though your favorite doctor may be right around the corner, if he is not in the network you probably won’t be able to see him.

Consider High Deductible Plans

Each year, more and more people are choosing to go with high-deductible plans because they are generally very affordable. These plans are meant to protect you from a catastrophic injury or illness. Because these plans have very high deductibles, they will not protect you from having to pay out of pocket expenses for minor injuries and illnesses.

Shop Around

Always shop your options. Although many insurance companies advertise that they have low prices, but you won’t really know if they’re truly low unless you get comparison rates. Find out what the rates are for at least two or three insurance providers and then make your decision once you have some actual facts.

Pay on Time

No matter which option you choose, always make sure to budget properly and pay your premium on time. If you neglect to pay on time, your insurance provider could pause or cancel your coverage. Timing is everything and chances are when your coverage is suspended is when you will need it most.

Purchasing health insurance can be an expensive undertaking. The choices you make will affect your future should you get sick or injured, so it is crucial to chose wisely when selecting a plan for you and your family.

Photo Credit: rosmary

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    If you have a choice, go for the plan that has 100% hospitalization. When my son was born, he was in the NICU for 26 days…price tag, $150K. My cost $100 copayment. I had 100% hospitalization.

  2. 2

    Carly says

    Do you have suggestions about who to contact?… Private insurance carriers (like the guys on the bus ads?)…The “big names” like Kaiser Permanente? Go online?

    I’m happily employed, (yay!), but worry every day. And just wondered if I should STAY AWAY from the “obvious choice” if I need to buy my own coverage. Is there a “smarter way” to start shopping?

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